TechnologyTell

CB Radio Users: Don’t Do This

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A CB whip installed on a Ford Explorer.

Got a high-powered mobile CB setup? Better hope it doesn’t tick off the wrong person. (Photo courtesy ExplorerForum.com.)

Heads up, CB radio users– because we know you’re out there: If your idea of road-trip entertainment involves playing in the Channel 6 “Super Bowl” with a fat linear amplifier, you might want to stop that pastime.

The Federal Communications Commission obviously can’t hunt down and prosecute the thousands of CB users who modify their radios beyond the letter of the law. (That law, by the way, uses a lot of legalese to basically say, “Don’t modify your CB radio, you doofus.”) What the feds can do, though, is get aggressive in finding you should your rig start interfering with other radio bands.

ARRL reported last summer about an Alaska CB hobbyist whose base station had been interfering with aircraft communications over the North Atlantic (!), raising the ire of air traffic controllers and pilots alike. The FCC used directional signal-finding equipment to pinpoint the location from which the transmissions were broadcasted and confronted the operator. They found him to have a radio unauthorized for use on the Citizens’ Band hooked into a 200-watt linear amplifier capable of boosting the radio’s output signal.

By law, an FCC-certified CB radio can only have a maximum output of up to 4 watts. A malfunction in the Alaska operator’s setup had reportedly caused his radio, which the operator said he had been operating on Channel 6, to bleed over into an air traffic control frequency. (Channel 6 is located at 27.025 MHz while the air traffic control channel was located at 21.964 MHz.)

Such amplified setups are not limited to base stations, of course. Numerous players in the so-called “Super Bowl” on Channel 6 of the CB band are operating from a mobile station in a car or big rig. If that sounds like you, (1) we’d recommend you not break the law, obviously, and (2) be prepared to face a pretty stiff fine if your radio ticks off the wrong person and the FCC comes looking for you. The operator in Alaska was fined $12,500.

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